The state race for Class 1A and 2A girls' basketball teams gets under way in two weeks, and four area teams will step to the starting line with the target that a No. 1 regional seeding brings with it.|
Two teams apiece in 1A and 2A were awarded top billing at their respective regionals when the IHSA released its small-school girls' hoops seedings and regional pairingsy. Those four teams, though, are used to such lofty rankings and the expectations.
In Class 1A, the Annawan Bravettes (19-2) were seeded first at their own regional tournament, while the Prophetstown Lady Prophets (22-3) grabbed top billing at the Polo Regional. In 2A, the Sherrard Tigers (21-3) earned the top spot at the Rockridge Regional and the Riverdale Rams (18-2) were tabbed No. 1 at the Sterling Newman Regional.
Three of those four teams are in first place in their respective conferences, the exception being Riverdale, which at 8-1 in the Three Rivers Conference is a full game behind Prophetstown (10-1) in the victory column. The Rams and Lady Prophets split their two league meetings.
The Rams also got a recent boost when two of their senior standouts broke long-standing career records. Forward Hannah Nimrick's 27 points in last Saturday's 96-27 TRAC-9 rout of Bureau Valley gave her 1,374, breaking Cathy Marx's standard of 1,372 points scored between 1987 and '90. In that same game, guard Elle May notched her 274th career steal, breaking Micki Diericks' school mark of 273 thefts from 1990-93.
Prophetstown, which rallied to best Riverdale in overtime in the teams' first meeting before falling to the Rams in both the Lady Prophets Tournament finals and a recent one-point TRAC-9 showdown, has thrived behind its own senior nucleus of point guard Cassie Reiley and forward Riley Walters.
Lincoln Trail Conference leader Annawan (7-0 in league play) notched its third straight LTC Tournament title this past weekend and is looking to make it a clean conference-title sweep behind the efforts of junior standout Celina VanHyfte and a strong supporting group. The Bravettes have won six in a row since consecutive losses at the State Farm Holiday Classic nearly a month ago.
And West Central North leader Sherrard (7-1 in the division) has bounced back from back-to-back losses that threatened its conference lead. Led by the senior trio of guards Carly Adams and Erin Barton and forward Annie Winston, the Tigers are looking for a second straight undisputed WCC North title after sharing the division with Illini West in 2011.
Other 1A seeds:At Annawan, two of the Bravettes' biggest competitors in the LTC race -- Wethersfield (19-5) and Stark County (16-7) -- were seeded second and third, respectively. The Lady Geese could draw the Lady Rebels in the semifinals if the latter gets by their opening-round matchup with No. 6 Galva (8-14).
ROWVA (13-10) edged out Ridgewood (11-13) for the No. 4 seed as those two rivals will meet in the first of the Feb. 4 opening-rounders at the all-LTC regional. The winner draws Annawan in the semis. Another LTC club, United (5-15), is seeded second behind Lewistown at the Abingdon Regional.
At Polo, the Erie Cardinals (17-7) snared the No. 2 seed and will open up against third-seeded Polo as they begin their quest for the program's first regional championship since 1985. Rounding out the field are No. 4 Milledgeville and No. 5 Ashton-Franklin Center, the winner of which meets Prophetstown in the semis.
Other 2A seeds:At Rockridge, the Orion Chargers (15-7) earned the No. 2 seed behind the torrid play of senior post standout Cassidy Clark, beating out the third-seeded host Rockets (10-13), who recently upset Sherrard 59-56.Rockridge opens against No. 6 Mercer County (7-18), with the winner meeting Orion in the semifinals; Sherrard draws either No. 4 Monmouth-Roseville (12-14) or No. 5 Biggsville West Central (11-11).
Kewanee (12-12) drew the No. 4 seed at its own regional gathering, a field topped by No. 1 Peoria Christian. The Boiler Girls open in the first round against No. 5 North Fulton and would play Peoria Christian in the semis should they advance.
And at Newman, the host Comets (13-9) topped Fulton (9-16) for the No. 2 seed, followed by No. 4 Savanna West Carroll and No. 5 Morrison (3-19). Another TRAC-9 club, Bureau Valley (1-23), was tabbed fifth at the Hall Regional in Spring Valley.